Uganda: Govt Appeals CBS Radio Ruling

Regulation & Policy

The Government is to appeal the ruling on its counter-claim against the CBS radio that was dismissed on August 20 by High Court judge Vincent Zehurikize.

The Attorney General (AG), on August 26 informed the High Court of his dissatisfaction with the ruling through a notice of intention to appeal. In the counter-claim filed on February 12, the Auditor General wanted CBS to pay the Government "aggravated damages for inconveniences caused as a result of the radio's unwarranted acts".

But CBS lawyers, Katende, Ssempebwa, and Company Advocates, contested the counter-claim, arguing that the AG had no right to sue because the counter-claim did not specify the persons party to it. The Broadcasting Council closed CBS on September 11 last year over allegations that it had incited the public to riot.

The riots were sparked off when the Katikkiro, John Baptist Walusimbi, was barred from proceeding to Kayunga to prepare for Kabaka Ronald Mutebi's visit to the area. In December last year, over 100 employees of CBS sued the Government, seeking orders to have the radio re-opened.

They sought the re-opening of the station, sh3b in compensation, general damages, and costs of the suit. They argued that the closing of the station was unjustifiable and had rendered them jobless. The AG sought leave from the High Court to consult the Court of Appeal on whether "the Government never had a case in the counter-claim for breach of the Electronic Media Act".

"We are seeking the resolution of the second court to determine whether the High Court was right to throw out the Government counter-claim," the notice read. The AG also wants the appellant court to determine whether the Government had a right to file a suit seeking damages from CBS for its failure to abide by the minimum broadcasting standards under the media Act.

The AG argued that its counter-claim was "a matter of law of great public importance that requires judicial opinion of a second court". It is yet to be confirmed when the Court of Appeal panel of judges will sit and determine the matter.